Beware ! You're in Kamikazie here. Not many pro luthiers around, more often brave souls experimenting in their kitchen.
Beater guitar - neck reset, separation - by Jaydee
Welcome. Pictures of my Kitchen Kamikaze lutherie, page Two. If you're going to do some, go read Frets.com.
Upon further consideration and some measuring I decided a neck reset was in order. I don't see much point in refretting a neck whose action is too high on the frets further down the fingerboard.
To see if you need a neck reset, you can check via fret.com's method here.
To see if you need a neck reset you're basically lining the frets up with the top of the bridge with a straight edge, "...as long as your bridge is the normal 5/16-3/8" height." That translates to approx. 8 mm to us metric fans. Quote from frets.com: "If I lay a straightedge on top of the frets, I'd like it to just touch the TOP of the ebony bridge (providing that the bridge is of normal 5/16-3/8" height.) That way with a saddle projecting 3/16' above the bridge, I'll have 3/32" action at the twelfth fret." end quote. 3/32" is roughly 2.5 mm.
Furthermore, the lovely luthier at frets.com gives a method to precisely know how much to shave off the dove joint once the neck is off to attain the right height of the fingerboard, but I won't need that until later. More maths, great. I never did like math.
I have an espresso machine, so I have a steam source. I got the hose off of one of our old and broken garden backpack sprayers and I got a metal hollow pin tip from the sports shop. It's a pin for pumping up rugby balls; basically a long, hollow metal tube with a threaded end. I put the threaded end into the tube and clamp with a garden hose clamp, the kind you screw tight. They're easy to find at any hardware store. The other end of the tube fits perfectly over the end of my steamer nozzle on the coffee maker and it will be clamped by the second clamp in the package. By plain dumb luck the threaded end of my rugby ball pump is also a perfect, snug fit. Well, maybe not so coincidentally, I did take the hose with me and they did have two sizes of threads. Still, the whole thing worked out marvelously well!
Here is a picture of the garden hose clamps and package. On the left is the second rugby ball pin. Above that is the pin I already clamped into the hose. You can't see the hose because my screw drive is sitting on it to stop it falling off the edge of my "sacrificial practice guitar" which everything is sitting on for this photo.
This is a picture of a fuzzy iron. I was humming and hawing over how I was going to heat the end of the fingerboard to loosen it off the guitar top. I finally decided to heat some brass weights up in the oven and put them on top of it. But after explaining the problem to my husband he asked me if I wanted to use his "fuzzy iron". He explained it was some sort of heating device for making model airplanes. I jumped at the offer because it's about the right width and has a variable temperature knob which goes over four hundred degrees Fahrenheit, or over 200 degrees Celsius. The luthier on frets.com heats his to four hundred degrees. Perfect!
Here is a picture of the fuzzy iron temperature dial.
I went and picked up an old beater guitar from work that I got for free in a rummage sale. It isn't worth fixing up as it has far too much wrong with it and was a cheap guitar to begin with. This poor old thing will be my experimental first neck reset. If all goes well with it, my Harmony parlor will be the second attempt.
And that's it for today. I'm not in any hurry and it's going to be a busy few months at work so I'll be plugging along at probably a very sedate speed.
Soon, I'll order some pre WW2 style frets from Stew-Mac at
"narrow/medium" (0147) fret wire from this page:
Here is a picture of it on zhyla's refret job.
Here I am back again. Today I am going to loosen the fingerboard from the body and remove a fret or two plus measure my sacrificial guitar to see how much to change the neck angle.
Here we are back on the kitchen bench ready to rock.There is the straight edge lined up to show how bad the neck angle is. There is the little fuzzy iron plugged in heating up.
Here we have the measurement of the problem. This will help me figure out how much to shave off the dove tail later. The red line is where the fingerboard presently lines up, the green one is at 16/32 ths of an inch (About eight mm)where it should line up. A rather large difference.
I heated the fuzzyiron to 400 degrees F but it wasn't wide enough to heat the whole area so I switched to my iron, which worked much better to keep the heat distributed evenly. By luck the width of the iron is exactly right to go from the 12th fret to the soundhole. Later I would use the fuzzyiron to re-heat the fret wire since I discovered the soldering iron I was going to use from my computer kit had a North American plug and I couldn't use it here.
My iron in action on the highest setting. This works just fine and dandy.
I'm using a paint scraper/putty knife that I happen to have lying around. I have all kinds of these things in different sizes and degrees of stiffness from various work we've done over the years.
We use them for puttying, scraping and also for plastering so we have quite a variety. For this job, one at least as wide as your fingerboard and flexible so you can bend it at the handle, and sharp works best. Plus round off the corners with some sand paper. (see arrow) I do that to all my scrapers, that way they don't cut gouges in things by accident. In addition, I thinned this one down a bit by sanding it. It only takes a minute with a sanding block and some medium sand paper.
I always sand the edges of my putty knives to get a knife-like edge too. They slide under things a lot better and in a pinch the smaller ones can even be used as sharp chisels. I also sand them to clean them since there is usually wood filler, builders bog or something on them.
That's done. I slip some paper underneath to make sure the gap goes all the way to the neck.
Here is our fret puller. I have no idea what this tool is supposed to be for, it came in a hobby kit my husband bought. Unfortunately the grippy/cutting part was on the INside edge of the tool, so I was going to file it down so that the grippy part was flush with the outside. My husband came in to see how progress was going and I asked him if I could modify his tool. He volunteered to do it on the grinder but ended up doing it with a file and had it done in under a minute. It went from being unable to pinch the fret to being perfect for the job. I'm very lucky to have such a supportive husband. He puts up with all my hobbies.
After heating the fret with the fuzzy iron (because the iron is overkill size for it) the fret puller tool went into action. Well, not quite as I had to prop it there to take the picture. It's already started to do its thing.
There we are, easy as pie and clean as a whistle even though I wasn't trying particularly hard to be careful.
I get my old drill (it's almost dead but our new one is kind of heavy so I stick with this one-I don't like electric screw drivers/drills as they need recharging too often and are underpowered for some things; I'd rather have a plug in one) and grab a bit that is just about the same size as the rugby ball nipple that is on my hose attached to the espresso maker machine. There's the bit and spare nipple. I wouldn't be laying this heavy drill on a guitar I cared about, by the way. I am now ready to drill down into the fret wire gap, into hopefully the dove tail joint gap in the neck of the guitar.
Next I drilled the hole. Well, actually four of them since using a bit of guitar string in the holes plus the feel of the bit did not convince me I had hit a dovetail pocket.
This is a cheap, ply-wood top guitar for all that it has a real soundhole inlay and for all I know it doesn't even HAVE a dovetail. So I drilled three holes on the fret, one at an angle toward where the pocket should have been and one hole between the frets. We'll find out tomorrow how this thing is constructed.
And that's it for today! If I get time (I have some work to do tomorrow) I'll set up again and steam the neck.
Whelp, today I hooked up the steamer. The rugby ball nozzle attached to the hose worked really, really well. Unfortunately the hose popped with a spectacular bang due to the pressure, which I pretty much expected. We went to our friendly plumber's house at my husbands suggestion after trying the local hardware store which didn't stock high pressure hose. Our plumber gave us a dishwasher hose to use. My husband (whose name is Harold) and I put the whole thing back together and then Harold steamed the neck a while.
After some discussion and diagram drawing we decided the "pocket" we're supposed to drill into is the one between the bottom of the dovetail and the back side of the guitar as the guitar is laying on its back, not the end of the joint horizontally as I had thought. Our drill bit isn't long enough for that and the shop is closed so we're out of action until next weekend when we can get to the engineers which sells longer bits.
I did the maths on how much I am going to have to shave off the dovetail joint. The ideal height of the fingerboard with frets on is 8mm. It is currently at 2mm. That's a difference of 6mm. To move the neck 6mm backward so the height is correct by the time it gets to the bridge, I divided the distance from fret 12 (this is a 12 fret to the body guitar)to the nut by the distance from the bottom of the fingerboard to the heal cap.
Then divide by the distance it needs to be moved, 6mm.
So, 3.40/6=.56 or around a half a mm to be shaved off.
I should add that I tested the maths out on paper, trying a few different scenarios out to make sure the formula works, lol. The formula is from frets.com.
Okkkkaaaaayyyyy...well, it turns out this guitar has NO DOVETAIL. So much for practice. Things really heat up now as I take you to true insanity.
On the next page I destroy, then set about to reconstruct, my 1938 Harmony flat top. Enjoy the ride!
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My harmony guitar lutherie page 1.
My harmony guitar.
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